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Thread: Cheap home theatre PC advice

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    Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Hello all!

    I've been trying to weigh up whether to go down the PS3 route or for a HTPC and have just about decided that I probably won't play the games very often and the media support on the PS3 didn't seem that great.

    I want to be able to play mkv files (with DTS/DD audio) from my NAS and be able to access online services such as iPlayer, netflix, lovefilm, youtubeHD etc.

    This board seems ideal (quiet, hdmi, optical audio out).
    Asus E45M1-M PRO (link) Integrated AMD Dual-Core Processor E-450 with AMD Radeon™ HD 6320 Graphics ~£117

    I have a WD Scorpio 250GB sata 2.5" HD from a laptop that can be used and a laptop DVD/RW (will need to get an adapter as I believe it is PATA) - tray type, not slot load. I also have a rather unattractive microATX case that could be spray painted - but it will need a new PSU.

    Am I going down a reasonable route, or would you suggest something else? Budget is around £250.
    Back from the dead

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    Old and VERY grumpy. g8ina's Avatar
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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    If you have a main pc nearby have you thought above streaming via a Bluray player ?

    My Samsung 6800 will play all my mkv files, plus it has net access to iPayer and Lovefilm/Netflix etc.

    AND its designed specifically for HD playback.

    AND its under a ton if you buy online and collect instore at John Lewis / Waitrose (if they still sell it that is)....

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Thanks for the reply. I have a Mac upstairs - gave my PC to parents!

    I have a Phillips Blu-ray player at the moment, but it can only play mkv files from a usb drive, not from the NAS (and no netTV access).

    Maybe I should consider your suggestion - cheaper and simpler (not as fun!).

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Quote Originally Posted by g8ina View Post
    My Samsung 6800 will play all my mkv files, plus it has net access to iPayer and Lovefilm/Netflix etc.
    You've either been very lucky or the 6800 has been given a lot more love then the 6900.

    The BD-C6900 I gave my mother (came free with my TV) has ~30% success rate on the HD MKVs I have tried on it.....
    Main PC: Asus Rampage IV Extreme / 3960X@4.5GHz / Antec H1200 Pro / 32GB DDR3-1866 Quad Channel / Sapphire Fury X / Areca 1680 / 850W EVGA SuperNOVA Gold 2 / Corsair 600T / 2x Dell 3007 / 4 x 250GB SSD + 2 x 80GB SSD / 4 x 1TB HDD (RAID 10) / Windows 10 Pro, Yosemite & Ubuntu
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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    ahhhh might be the 6900 actually All my MKVs will play, just not all of them will FFD or Rev

    Sometimes I need to remux them before they will play, but thats not difficult (ReMuxer)

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    For a micro-ATX form factor I would go with Llano instead of the E450.

    Similar idle power, but way more grunt on tap should you ever need it.
    Bottom of the range A4-3300 is only £50, so plenty to spend on a motherboard and still come up cheaper.

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    As far as cases go this one is a pretty good one with a low cost:
    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/color...-with-450w-psu

    I have a quad core athlon II, 4gb of ram and a GT 240 in mine and it is quiet (with akasa amber fans) and fits perfectly in my tv's glass stand.
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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    IF you don't require a Disc Drive for DVD's or Blu-Rays then building a machine yourself is almost pointless.

    Get something like this:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/279898-acer-as...p-pt-semec-036

    Then install this:

    http://openelec.tv/

    And you will be set. openelec is based on XBMC but is customised so that it is more suited to nettops or PC's with slow CPUs so that it can boot and run quicker. I've been using an Acer Revo 3600 for a while now and I have never had any issues with it. It's been a solid performer and its power consumption is minimal at best.

    The ION2 GPU is easily capable of playing almost any HD video file you chuck at it.

    I have the first generation ION in the 3600 and it's perfectly fine, MKV HD is flawless.

    It can be mounted to a VESA mount too so if you have a TV with it's VESA mount free attach it to the back of it.

    I can't see why anyone would want anything else unless they are after a disc drive or TV recording functionality.

    ALSO NOTE: If you do want a disc drive, you could always add an external drive.

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    I don't think the Acer will fit the bill - it doesn't have optical out from what I can see. I do like the idea of it fitting on the back of the TV.

    I'll take a look at the openelec software too :-)

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Just noticed that the Acer Revo RL70 does have optical out though...

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldfinger_007 View Post
    I don't think the Acer will fit the bill - it doesn't have optical out from what I can see. I do like the idea of it fitting on the back of the TV.

    I'll take a look at the openelec software too :-)
    Looking at the pictures it has SPDIF on it... - Sorry it seems like it's only on certain models. DOH!

    This model does: http://www.ebuyer.com/279899-acer-as...p-pt-semec-037

    Also openelec is basically XBMC but just more optimised, so it maybe better to checkout XBMC or download it for your PC and check it out.

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Just spotted it - thanks. Not on the feature list for some reason. RL70 seems a slightly better spec for only ~£4 difference.

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldfinger_007 View Post
    Just spotted it - thanks. Not on the feature list for some reason. RL70 seems a slightly better spec for only ~£4 difference.
    Yeeah, I edited my post to say it's not included, the image is wrong! IT is included in the more expensive version, I'm not sure what the AMD chip in the RL70 is like, but google shows that it does run with XBMC so I imagine it's more then capable for videos!

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    I would seriously avoid the PC route, absolute pain in the neck to get something quiet and fast, and even more of a pain in the neck to get something with a decent software solution and remote control support that doesn't require loads of configuration and setting up, i.e. mediaportal.

    A dedicated box is far easier in my experience, something basic like an AC Ryan if you want to go really budget, all the way up to a Popcorn Hour. Some of the new TVs even support Youtube and so on out of the box.

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    The E450 is a refresh to the fusion E350, with a small clockspeed bump to the CPU and GPU, plus some special Turbo Core sauce for the GPU that bumps the shaders from 508MHz to 600MHz if there's TDP to spare. Given that the E350 could beat out dual core Atom + ION2 in pretty much every task, the E450 should do the same, just slightly more so For HTPC, it's pretty much ideal: the GPU has a full implementation of UVD3, so you get all major formats hardware accelerated, along with Flash video acceleration. Oh, and it also bitstreams DTS and DD over HDMI.

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    Re: Cheap home theatre PC advice

    What do you all think of the Boxee Box?

    Seems to tick all the boxes...

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